Maternity and parental leave
Maternity leave offers a special protection for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is ensured by legal regulations, which are regulated in the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz). The law ensures that employers comply with maternity leave periods (Mutterschutzfristen) and observe certain employment restrictions. It stipulates that you get maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsleistungen) to replace your income. The law also deals with workplace health protections. That's why you should let your workplace know that you're pregnant in a timely manner. Only then can your manager ensure that your work does not pose a risk to you or your pregnancy.
Maternity Benefits (Mutterschaftsleistungen)
Women who work are generally entitled to maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsleistungen) for six weeks before and eight weeks after giving birth. Maternity benefits in Germany include three types of cash payments you can get instead of your salary while you're on maternity leave. Which one you get depends on your work situation, your health insurance, and whether your maternity leave period (Mutterschutzfrist) has begun. In most cases, you will receive maternity pay (Mutterschaftsgeld) from your health insurance company and a maternity pay supplement from your employer. If you are not allowed to work before the start or after the end of the maternity leave period because of a restriction on employment (Beschäftigungsverbot), your workplace must pay you what is known as ‘maternity allowance’ (Mutterschaftslohn).
Reporting Pregnancy at Work
According to the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz), you should inform your superiors as soon as you know you are pregnant. But you're not obligated to. Many pregnant people give notice at work at the beginning of the second trimester after the sensitive first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
Employment Restrictions (Beschäftigungsverbot) and Sick Leave
There are various situations in which people are not allowed to work during pregnancy or after childbirth, or not to the same extent as before pregnancy. The is because of certain working conditions that are not compatible with the welfare of pregnancy and childbirth and therefore lead to employment restrictions (Beschäftigungsverbot). These restrictions are regulated by law and are intended to protect you and your child. In addition, there is the sick leave approved by doctors. The type of restriction or sick leave depends on the situation. All pregnant people are subject to employment restrictions during the maternity leave period (Mutterschutzfrist) in the six weeks before the birth and the eight weeks after. However, during the maternity leave period before childbirth, the prohibition against working is not absolute. If you want, you can still work during that time. After birth, on the other hand, working is not allowed no matter what. If your child was born ill or before the 37th week of pregnancy, then the employment restrictions after birth are extended to twelve weeks.
Parental Allowance (Elterngeld)
You can get financial support for several months after your child is born if you look after them yourself and do not have a full income during this time. This support is called parental allowance (Elterngeld). It's supposed to replace your normal income during this time. Parental allowance is primarily intended for parents who take parental leave (Elternzeit). You do not have to claim parental allowance in one go. You may pause it and you may receive it at the same time as or overlapping with your partner. How you divide these months among yourselves is up to you. You do not have to start receiving parental allowance without any gaps until your child is 15 months old, otherwise the months that are still available to you will expire. If you want to apply for parental allowance (Elterngeld), there are a few things to consider.
Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus)
Instead of a Basic Parental Allowance (Basiselterngeld), you can also receive Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus). It is only half as much, but it is paid for up to 24 months, which is twice as long as Basic Parental Allowance. Parental Allowance Plus is ideal, for example, if you would like to return to work soon after giving birth and work part-time. It gives you the opportunity to work up to 30 hours a week without having your parental allowance reduced straight away. In contrast, with Basic Parental Allowance, every euro you earn in addition is deducted. That means there's hardly anything left over from your earnings. It is best to contact your local parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) before you give birth. They can advise you on which variant of the parental allowance is best for you and what effect your income has on the amount you can receive. That's helpful because there's a lot to keep in mind when you're applying for a parental allowance (Elterngeld).
Parental allowance (Elterngeld) for self-employed people
Self-employed people are also entitled to parental allowance (Elterngeld). To calculate the amount of the allowance, however, it is not the last twelve calendar months before the birth that count, but rather the last completed calendar year before the birth. You may work up to 30 hours per week while receiving a parental allowance. To do this, you must confirm in writing that you will adhere to the specified weekly hours. In addition, your parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) needs an approximate estimate of what income you expect to receive during the period in which you get a parental allowance. After this period, you must submit an income statement to the parental allowance office. You must then declare all the income you have earned during the parental allowance period. The age of your child is decisive for this. The best thing to do is contact the parental allowance office before your baby is born and ask for advice.
Claiming Parental Allowance (Elterngeld)
It is best to contact your local parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) to get advice about parental allowance (Elterngeld) and parental leave (Elternzeit) before your baby is born. The parental allowance office advisers can tell you what information you need to clarify now and what you can decide later. You can also get information about how to get the highest parental allowance. After all, there are a few stumbling blocks that can cost parents real money. If you want, the advisers at the parental allowance office will fill in the application form with you. Auf der Website des Bundesfamilienministeriums gibt es auch einen Elterngeld-Rechner, mit dem du herausfinden kannst, wieviel Elterngeld du bekommst: https://familienportal.de/familienportal/rechner-antraege/elterngeldrechner
Parental leave (Elternzeit)
After the birth of your child, you are entitled to up to three years of parental leave (Elternzeit). This is unpaid time off from work. Your employer must release you from work for this period if you wish. During this time, however, you will not receive a salary. To compensate, you can apply for parental allowance (Elterngeld) for a limited time. Both mothers and fathers can take parental leave. You can also take parental leave at the same as a couple time, or just one of you at a time. The best thing to do is to contact your local parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) during your pregnancy and get advice on parental leave and parental allowance.